Bryant Park. Urban Park in New York City, New York

Bryant Park

Urban Park in New York City, New York

Bryant Park skyline, New York Photo © Bokeh & Travel

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Bryant Park

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	Park and New	York Public Library - Bryant Park
Bryant Park and New York Public Library - Bryant Park. Photo by Wally Gobetz
Bryant Park is a public park in New York City. It is managed and maintained by the private, not-for-profit Bryant Park Corporation and serves as a model for a successful, private-public partnership. The park is located in Midtown Manhattan, between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue and 40th Street and 42nd Street.

The New York Public Library is located on the park’s grounds and forms its eastern boundary. The main entrance is located on Sixth Avenue. The library’s vast archives lie underneath the park. Bryant Park consists of extensive lawns, sculptures, the Reading Room, a café, and several areas to play games.


The area was designated as public property as early as 1868 by Governor Thomas Dongan. In 1823 the site became the graveyard of the poor, which it remained until 1840. The first actual park was opened in 1847, then known as Reservoir Square. In 1853 it was the location of the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, or World Fair in short, with the New York Crystal Palace (Wikipedia Article), which drew in many thousands of visitors. During the American Civil War it was used for military drills.

The park was given its current name in 1884, after the abolitionist and editor of the New York Evening Post, William Cullen Bryant. At the end of the century, the first stone of the New York Public Library was laid and kiosks and other public facilities were added to the park. The Beaux-Arts-style library was completed in 1911.

	Bryant Park
Bryant Park. Photo by Justin Brown
During the first decades of the 20th century the park went through several stages of construction. The park was completely redesigned in 1933 by the architect Lusby Simpson. It was laid out in a classical scheme of a large central lawn, formal pathways, lanes lined with London plane trees, stone balustrades, and an oval plaza with a fountain. The newly-designed park opened to the public in 1934.

However, in the 1970s the park had become a hub for crime and drugs and it went into severe decline. It wasn’t until a decade later, when the Rockefeller Brothers founded the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, that the park was again renovated. In the course of seven years, the corporation managed to double the annual amount of visitors and reduce crime by 92%. Kiosks were built and people could enjoy themselves at public concerts and join historical park tours. Bryant Park reopened to the public in 1992 and became an instant success. It received praise not only by visitors and local, but also by the media and urbanists. It is one of the best examples of the revival of New York City in the 1990s; Times Square and Central Park are other famous examples.

A view of Bryant Park - Bryant
A view of Bryant Park - Bryant Park. Photo by Ed Yourdon

Visiting Bryant Park

The park is generally filled with office workers on a break, tourists and visitors during the holidays. Oftentimes there are as many as 800 people per acre, which makes Bryant Park the world’s most densely occupied urban park. Amenities include a carousel, an open-air library, a restaurant and café, four kiosks, and free Wi-Fi – Bryant Park is the first New York City park that offers free Wi-Fi to its visitors.

The grounds of Bryant Park feel like an urban oasis. Nestled between towering skyscrapers, the park offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy some greenery and relax after a day’s work or a long walk through the city. The park consists of several flowers and seasonal gardens, as well as a few public monuments, such as the New York Public Library and several sculptures.

The Reading Room is an open-air public reading room, established during the Great Depression to give unemployed and even homeless people access to books and other materials so they could read and learn. It consists of an eclectic mix of books, newspapers and magazines, movable furniture. There are lunchtime programs and activities for kids as well. The beauty of it all is that it’s completely free.

The Carousel, also known as a merry-go-round in the United States, is reminiscent of the French classical style of the park. It’s a real highlight of the park and consists of fourteen animals spinning around to French cabaret music.

Another fantastic amenity of Bryant Park is the possibility to play games, from chess and scrabble to pétanque and backgammon. The Bryant Park Games corner has about 35 tabletop games. Pétanque can be played at designated areas. Another fun game to play is ping pong.

	Bryant Park
Bryant Park. Photo by unknown
Visitors can grab a bite to eat at the Bryant Park Grill or a beverage at the Bryant Park Café. In winter, the Bank of America Winter Village features an ice skating rink, special events, and all kinds of winter activities.

How to Get There

Located next to the New York Public Library and on Fifth Avenue, Bryant Park can conveniently be reached by subway. The two nearest subway stations are Fifth Avenue, accessed via the 7 train, and 42nd Street/Bryant Park, accessed via the B, D, F, and M trains.

Similar Landmarks

New York City is home to several great urban parks. Other ones that are definitely worth visiting are Central Park, Union Square Park (Wikipedia Article), Battery Park, the High Line, and Washington Square Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 21, 2014

Pictures of Bryant Park

Winter market at Bryant Park (New York, NY) - Bryant Park
Winter market at Bryant Park (New York, NY) - Photo by Luke Redmond


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